Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 103-115

First online:

Accountant ethics: A brief examination of neglected sociological dimensions

  • Timothy J. FogartyAffiliated withDepartment of Accountancy, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Wester Reserve University

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Traditional treatments of accountant ethics make implicit assumptions inconsistent with a sociological perspective. This paper identifies the ways in which accountant ethics have been approached both in literature pertaining to practice and the classroom. The boundaries of the topic, when its definitions are left tacit, systematically preclude many important features of ethics. Included in these are sociological treatments of the accounting profession as a group, extra-personal aspects of decision making, the stratification of accounting practice, and a sense of ethical action. The paper concludes with an illustration of how institutional theory has the potential to create a systematic sociological interpretation of accountant ethics.